'Byron and London' Conference, 29 April 2006, Nottingham Trent University

By Kimura, Yoshie | The Byron Journal, December 2006 | Go to article overview

'Byron and London' Conference, 29 April 2006, Nottingham Trent University


Kimura, Yoshie, The Byron Journal


The third annual one-day Byron conference organised by the Newstead Abbey Byron Society, Nottingham Trent University and the Midlands Romantic Seminar was held on 29 April 2006, at the Clifton Campus, Nottingham Trent University. The theme was 'Byron and London', and there were nine papers in all given to audiences of up to thirty.

The conference opened with a keynote lecture by David Worrall (Nottingham Trent) on '"Giovanni in London": Byron, Busby, Drury Lane Machinations and the Context of Georgian Drama'. Worrall discussed Thomas Busby's Giovanni in London, which was the first melodrama in which music was used to support the action. This hugely popular London version of the Don Juan legend and its reception sheds a revealing light on theatrical practice and audiences in Byron's London. Valeria Vallucci (Tor Vergata, Rome) spoke on 'A Little Italian Byron in London, or, Byron, Hobhouse and Foscolo in London', highlighting the relationship between the Italian exile-poet Ugo Foscolo and Hobhouse, which bore one of its many fruits in the form of Hobhouse's notes for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage IV. Foscolo came to London in 1816 and was treated as, in effect, Byron's replacement by London society. Vallucci presented an interesting and lively comparison between the two poets. Mary O'Connell (University College Cork) gave very detailed information about the relationship and friendship between Byron and his publisher John Murray, which is the subject of her PhD thesis and will be especially important in view of the forthcoming publication by Liverpool University Press of Andrew Nicholson's edition of Murray's letters to Byron.

Six of the nine papers gave a reading of the London cantos of Don Juan, but these readings were diverse, stimulating and original. Padmini Ray Murray (Edinburgh University) presented 'Paphians and Pugilists, Corinthians and Cyprians: Walking the Gendered Streets of London', which examined the London cantos, comparing London's emphasis on the masculine, as represented by boxers, with the more feminine characteristics of streets and street life. Murray interestingly pointed out that the language of bodily exposure is found in the London cantos, and controls their image of the city. In 'Byron and the London of Regency Gentlemen', Timothy Webb (Bristol) pointed out that the London cantos follow the mode of a classical travel narrative, characterised as reflective and meditative.

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